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Children Involved in Car Accidents in Boston and elsewhere May Not Need CT Scans

When children are involved in a car accident in Boston and elsewhere in the United States, many receive brain CT scans to determine if they’ve suffered any brain damage. In most cases, traumatic brain injury (TBI) never occurs. Now there’s new research illustrating that a physician can determine whether the child has a serious problem after observing a child with head injuries for a certain period of time. This allows them to help treat the young patient without resorting to using a CT scan.

Our Boston car accident lawyers would err on the side of caution when it comes to diagnosing a head injury. However, eliminating needless CT scans will also help to eliminate some unnecessary and unwanted radiation exposure.
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Children’s Hospital Boston and the University of California-Davis held the study as the results were later released by the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network. They study combined data from 25 different emergency departments, and looked at roughly 40,000 children who suffered minor blunt head trauma. Researchers discovered that more than 5,400 of the young patents, or nearly 15 percent, were checked out before making decisions regarding CT use. As the severity of the head trauma varied, so did the observation time.

Researchers found more than 5,400 pediatric patients, or nearly 15 percent, of those studied, were observed before making a decision about CT use. Observation times varied, as did the severity of head trauma. In the study, children who were observed had a lower rate of receiving CT scans than those who were not observed.

“There are actually three groups of patients that come into an emergency room with pediatric head trauma,” says Dr. Lise Nigrovic of Children’s Hospital Boston who co-led the study. “The first is the child that really has no symptoms and it’s obvious to the doctors that the child is fine. The second is the child that has all the major symptoms, vomiting, headaches, unconsciousness, perhaps bleeding. That child is obviously a candidate for a CT scan. It’s the children in the middle risk groups – those who don’t appear totally normal, but whose injury isn’t obviously severe – for whom observation can really help.”

Some may want to recommend a CT scan just as an extra precautionary measure, but researchers warn that CT scans to the head can add even more risks for children. A child’s growing brain tissue is much more sensitive to ionizing radiation than an adult’s brain is. As children typically have a longer life expectancy, their lifetime risk of developing a radiation-induced tumor is greater than an adult’s as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children under the age of 4, those between the ages of 15 and 19, and adults over the age of 65 are most likely to sustain a TBI. Nearly half a million emergency department visits for TBI’s are made by children under the age of 14 each year.

In the United States, TBI proves to be a serious and oftentimes fatal injury as it is a contributing factor to roughly a third of all injury-related deaths. Over all, more than 50,000 die, roughly 275,000 are hospitalized, and more than 1 million TBI patients are treated and released from an emergency department. Among all age groups, motor vehicle accidents and other traffic-related incidents were the second leading cause of TBI and caused in the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths.

The Boston injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman LLC are dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims and their families in Massachusetts. Contact our experienced team if you have been injured in a car accident by calling 1-877-617-5333 to set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Young Female Passenger Suffers Life Altering Injuries from Boston Trolley Accident, Boston Car Accident Attorney Blog, April 30, 2011

Defective child-safety seats increase risk of injury in Boston car accidents, Boston Car Accident Attorney Blog, February 27, 2011

Teens exceed speed limits causing increased risk in Boston car accidents, Boston Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 13, 2011